Sony has released a new 15.5-inch 1080p edition to the VAIO S Series, complete with BluRay reader. The 15-inch Sony Vaio S Series shares a lot of design features with the smaller SA and SB versions. Same magnesium alloy case, same angular design – though a closer look reveals some crucial differences.
Although the magnesium alloy case suggests durability, the 15-inch Vaio S weighs just 4.4 pounds, light for its class, but consequently not so robust. The screen does not feel so solid and the keyboard flexes under pressure. Sony claims this flexibility actually makes for stronger build quality, but are unconvinced – it certainly didn’t inspire our confidence.
The port selection on the 15-inch Sony Vaio S Series is good, with no less than three USB sockets (one USB 3.0) on the right side. Then there’s a VGA port, an HDMI socket, an SD card reader and a MagicGate card reader. Consumers can choose from a selection of optical drives.
Sony have used the extra space to include a full number pad, very useful for office work.
The full-sized backlit island-style keyboard has stylistic matte keys with good resistance, giving an upbeat typing experience. The trackpad doesn’t follow the fashion for clickpads; instead a pair of buttons below provide for clicking. Sadly, multi-finger gestures were often unresponsive.
The 15.5-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution display is a considerable improvement on the 1366 x 768 screen of the 13-inch SB. There’s lots of space compared with the 13-inch SB Series, be it for watching movies or multitasking with an office suite. Viewing angles and contrast were both excellent on the matte display. Screenwise this is the sort of premium quality display we’ve come to expect from Sony.
Video can be streamed wirelessly via the integrated Intel Wireless Display 2.1 technology, though you might need an adapter for the TV. As with the Vaio SB, however, audio is disappointing – volume wasn’t a problem but sound was tinny. Period. So external speakers will be a must.
The standard configuration for the Vaio S is an Intel Core i5-2430M 2.4GHz which is shackled with a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics card and 6GB of RAM. Multitasking and multimedia are handled with ease – full-screen Blu-Ray and HD play impeccably, and boot time is a tolerable 50 seconds. The OS responds briskly and apps open, close, minimise and execute quickly.
In stamina mode, medium usage lasted out for just short of four hours, and Sony have been good enough to offer a no-nonsense switch for toggling between ‘Stamina’ and ‘Speed’ modes, automatically reconfiguring Windows settings to save you the bother. Sony do offer a $150 optional sheet battery, which fits on the underside of the Sony Vaio S Series and can be charged independently, and this sheet battery delivers over eight hours of service, so if mobile computing is a prime consideration, Sony has it covered.
Sony Vaio S Series bechmarks were compared by engadget. The testing model had 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-2430M processor. Dell XPS 15z had the best scores with both GPU on and off. HP Envy 14 wasn’t far behind.
Pricewise the Sony Vaio S is expected to start from $1000, with various processor options ranging from i3 to i7. Storage options will also include a 1TB option and SSD. The Blu-Ray reader can be upgraded to a Blu-Ray writer. Costwise the Sony Vaio S Series starts at a $100 premium on the Vaio SB, and for us, well worth the extra cash. Any doubters might want to compare the Acer TimelineX, but for GM, the Sony Vaio S Series is a worthy addition to the Sony palette.
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